By Andrew Miga

WASHINGTON - Shortly after Democrats reclaimed the Senate on Thursday, a buoyant Sen. Edward M. Kennedy reached for a framed photo that President Bush recently gave him.

The photograph depicts Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Bush huddling amicably in the Oval Office back in January when the pair became fast friends in hopes of boosting their respective legislative agendas.

Sen. James Jeffords of Vermont, whose switch from the GOP to become a Democrat-friendly independent triggered the Senate shakeup, looms far in the background of the shot, which Bush inscribed: "To Ted, a fine leader."

Kennedy, showing off the photo to guests in his Senate office, flashed a knowing smile as he assessed the political earthquake ripping across Capitol Hill: "(It's) a different world now."

Is it ever.

Senate Democrats, emboldened by a new single-vote majority, are about to turn Washington on its head - rolling out an ambitious legislative agenda and scuttling Bush's proposals on everything from the environment to a new missile defense shield.

When Kennedy makes his return visits to the White House now, he will be carrying along considerably more clout dealing with Bush.

"This is a historic moment," said the senior senator.

The power shift toward Democrats on Capitol Hill will likely be a boon to Massachusetts interests, said Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.), who will assume the chairmanship of the Small Business Committee and enjoy a stronger hand on the Finance panel.

The Bay State's hospitals, high-tech, financial industry and research firms all stand to gain from the Democratic resurgence, said Kerry.

Bills favored by Democrats and aimed at the nursing shortage, prescription drug woes and Medicare reimbursements are vital to the state, Kerry asserted.

"Now we will have an ability to leverage those issues more," Kerry said.

Kennedy, meanwhile, will serve as Democratic point man on several major bills the GOP opposes when Congress returns from its Memorial Day recess on June 5.

Reclaiming his Labor panel chairmanship, Kennedy will put his liberal stamp on a massive education reform bill - a measure that Bush had hoped to shape and claim credit for.

Democrats will strike fast in the coming weeks, pushing their plan to give patients more rights in dealing with HMOs and a bill to boost the minimum wage to $ 6.65 an hour, both Kennedy priorities.

"When those bills come up on the Senate floor, then I'll know that things have really changed, it's not business as usual in the Senate," said Kennedy.

The White House, meanwhile, must shift strategic gears in the coming weeks.

Many GOP moderates feel they have been snubbed by Bush and congressional GOP leaders pursuing a more conservative path.

Many of the Republican moderates are from swing states in the Northeast.

Some, like Rhode Island's Lincoln Chafee, will be courted aggressively by Democrats.

"If we want to maintain our status as a national party, we have to accommodate that," said one leading moderate, Sen. Arlen Specter, a Pennsylvania Republican.

Specter said he expected a period of "soul searching" from party leaders, but conservatives are holding firm.

Sen. Phil Gramm (R-Texas), one of the Senate's leading conservatives, said it would be a mistake for Bush to turn away from the right - but that Republicans should take fresh stock in the wake of Jeffords' switch.

"Anytime something happens, only a fool says there's nothing to be learned here," concluded Gramm.

The president - already under fire for his environmental and energy plans - will be under renewed pressure to move to the political center.

Democrats, meanwhile, fully realize their new majority is not without risks.

Should the party go overboard scuttling Bush's agenda, it could be vulnerable to obstructionist charges.

Already many Democratic leaders are vowing to show an even hand dealing with Republicans.

"What we really want to show here is that Democrats can govern," said Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.), a leading liberal. "I would look for a more bipartisan approach . . . than the Bush unilateral approach."